CREATIVE SPACE #9 of 2022 (uploaded May 3rd 2022)
CREATIVE SPACE is an award-winning series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published exclusively in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 as a blog series and syndicated as of 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It has its first print run in the paper every other Wednesday, with the online extended edition with EXTRAS running here on the blog and full interviews and extras on AntiguanWriter on YouTube. In 2021, the two–part CREATIVE SPACE mini-series on marine culture placed third in the OECS clean oceans journalists challenge. CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared in the Daily Observer newspaper on May 4th 2022:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with EXTRAS.
CREATIVE SPACE: CRAFTING WINNING COMMERCIAL ART
“I do stuff that I like and it also helps to make a living,” Lawson said. And artist to artist, that’s the dream right there.
Lawson Lewis has been producing artistically interesting commercial videos for a while but it would not be a stretch to say he’s hit his stride. His mantel currently holds several highly competitive advertising industry awards – for the ‘Birds of Barbuda’ documentary short (a Gold Angel award), ‘Sun, Sea, Safe: Welcome Back!’ vaccination campaign (a Silver Angel award), ‘Say Something’ television commercial and social media campaign (two Silver American Addy awards), ‘Neighbour Paint-ra-t Kid’ commercial (a Silver American Addy award), ‘Neighbour’ social media campaign (Silver Addy), #CoolisClean video animation (Marcom Gold award) – and he is busy creating new content with his team as CEO and creative director of Tasier Strategy.
That Lawson is first of all an artist (canvas to screen) is not a surprise – it’s evident in the work. But he also is clear that design is about clearly communicating a message. “Your ad is supposed to sell something whether it’s the brand or the product.”
To do either, the content has to engage and Lawson has a track record of creating conversation starters. Take the hardware ad series with the annoying ‘Neighbour’, the annoyed father, and the son relaying messages between them. They’ve definitely been the subject of conversation…and criticism – for, among other things, the son’s perceived rudeness. While asserting that he’s “okay with being a little controversial,” Lawson said that wasn’t the intention. “We were actually very mindful when we wrote it. We were very careful with the wording.” The boy was not meant to be rude – the premise was that, like most children, he lacks the guile to censor himself. Lawson also underscored the role of culture in his storytelling. “The scripts that we’re writing are usually culturally relevant scripts and if they’re not culturally relevant, they’re coming from things that people see in our society.” Discussing a forthcoming ad, but applicable here, Lawson emphasized that it’s about “tying your brand and product to reality and people can relate and it comes across to most people as being a little humorous.”
Do they push creative boundaries? By design.
And with their ads reportedly having, based on online analytics, a high level of audience retention, in addition to winning awards, the mix is working.
Getting the mix right behind the scenes has been key.
Lawson has always wanted to do commercials, has always been intrigued by the challenge of “how you could tell a story and engage somebody in that (short) time frame.” So, while he does see himself venturing in to documentary filmmaking, and arguably has begun to do so with projects like ‘Birds of Barbuda’ and the forthcoming short on Redonda’s recovery, designing commercials is not a phase for him. But his 16+ career has been through phases – including an earlier independent run (Palette Designs) and a stint with the Ministry of Information – before Tasier (which, like the animal it’s named for, Lawson said is “unique, very small… and can push above our weight”). He’s experimented, collaborated, studied (continues to study, including recent script and grant proposal writing training), and practiced. “I did start off doing many different things and had to train myself and that is how I would have developed many of my skills over … years.” He leaves the bulk of writing to Vaughan Skerritt, but enjoys being hands-on with filming and editing, though his main role is to “pull the bigger idea together”.
The secret to his current trajectory is synergy. “The projects that usually take off are usually when you have a team and people who understand the vision.”
We talk about his cinematography – “cinematography is what I love,” Lawson said, and I tell him it’s one of if the not the thing I love most about his work. His style, he explained, favours handheld camera work and getting up close with the subject, use of natural light and shadow; a style born as much of necessity as of love. “It’s because you have to move fast, you have to get stuff done quickly.” There is an artfulness to what he does, one that embraces what others – more married to precision – might interpret as imperfection but which, I feel, gives his visuals a certain identifiable and appealing atmosphere and which, he agrees, “adds to the art and creativity.”
‘Sun, Sea, Safe: Welcome Back!’ winner of the American Advertising Federation District 4 Silver Angel Award.
This was a commission from the Antigua Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association and Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority meant to highlight our adherence to the Covid-19 protocols and how impactful a high rate of vaccination can be; the goal, green listing in the UK and CDC level 1 rating in the US. Two videos and other supplemental material – targeted at travel agents and tour operators, as well as for use in workshops, newsletters, webinars, etc. – was created.
‘Birds of Barbuda’, a three-part-documentary, was produced for the Environmental Awareness Group and Fauna & Flora International while they were conducting surveys on the Barbuda warbler and frigate, post Irma, and reflects Lawson’s interest in projects focused on the green economy. He is also personally invested to the point where he now sits on the organization’s board of directors.
‘Say Something’ winner of two Silver Addy’s for Crime Stoppers Antigua TV commercial and social media campaign.
More Tasier Strategy content can be found on their channel.
If you would like to be featured in a future CREATIVE SPACE or to pay for a (web only) advertisement or sponsored post (on jhohadli.wordpress.com exclusively), BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture, contact Joanne. Contact me also to explore advertising options.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing or excerpting with link and credit is okay. But for re-publication of CREATIVE SPACE or any other content on this site contact Joanne – also use this link to contact Joanne for appearances (reading, speaking, discussions), workshops/courses, writing, editing, or other offered service.